Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip (Mini) Muffin recipe

I love breakfast foods. And I love chocolate. So I look for ways to combine the two. (Don't judge.) These tasty little morsels can be made as muffins or mini muffins. Beware! With mini muffins, you may lose count on how many you actually ate!

  • 1 C. mashed bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 C. margarine, melted
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 1/4 C. flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 C. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C. walnuts

In medium bowl, beat bananas, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla until well blended. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Make well in center of dry ingredients. Pour in banana mixture. Mix until just blended. Spoon into greased muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes (large muffins) or 12-15 minutes (mini muffins).

Yields: 1 dozen

Monday, March 26, 2012

A lazy Sunday with the kids...

Sweet dreams while spoonin' with me on the couch...
with Clay screaming at little boys on COD... 
"Now Zora, bark once when you see snipers and twice for gernades..."
Daddy's girl
No affection for me during video games... I see where I'm ranked.
Nap time with Daddy...
Getting a little warm...
...let's try the floor.
The Zora couch... juuuust right.

DIY: Make Your Own Swiffer Pads

If you own a fleece shirt or jacket AND own a pet, you know that these fierce enemies never play nice. Fleece sweatshirts, blankets and shirts are no match for my fur ball of a dog even after washing and drying. With this frustration in mind, I thought, why not use it to my advantage? A cloth that attracts any dog hair within a 10 foot radius? Sounds like a Swiffer solution to me.

I purchased an old fleece blanket from a thrift store (that supports a local animal shelter, naturally) for around $2. From one blanket, I could get eight approximately 10"x10" squares. I was going to hem up the edges, but who cares!? Not my dirty floor.

I actually think these work better than the actual Swiffer pads. They glide along my floor a lot nicer and pick up the smaller sand particles better. When I'm all done, the large clump of dust and dog hair peels right off to be thrown away. The rest goes into the washing machine and comes out perfectly clean.

Go ahead, try it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

DIY: Upcycle Brass Hinges

If you're anything like me, you probably prefer silver over a gold/brass color. After replacing 96 brass door handles and hinges on my cupboards, we decided to upgrade our door handles to silver as well. However, didn't realize door hinges really only came in brass. Hmm, dilemma.

Not so fast. Did you know you can paint your brass hinges with acrylic craft paint? No? Well, you can. The door hinges in my house took anywhere from 3-5 coats to cover all of the brass hue. In between coats, there may or may not be paint boogers where the joints rub against each other. No biggie. Carefully pick them off and apply your next coat.

After the final coat of paint, cover everything with mod podge for a protective coating. I was quite surprised how well everything covered and how such a simple change made everything really come together.  ...because the brass hinges really stuck out against my black, white and silver decor. 

DIY: The Ultimate Stain Remover

This amazing personal victory needs a little prelude so that you can all understand my absolute happiness at this current moment.

My husband use to drive this POS semi-functional Sonoma. However, it eventually started to run on gallons-per-mile right around the time he needed to make a long commute to work. So we went out and purchased a Malibu for him to drive around instead of the death trap of a truck. Using this vehicle for both work and play, this poor poor car had deer carcasses shoved in the trunk, fish gut incrusted tackle thrown in the backseat, his greasy work shoes imprinted on the driver seat, sticky mountain dew remnants on the floor and center console, little debbie bits ground into the upholstery... etc. etc. (I know, most of you moms out there had to look back in my post and make sure I wasn't talking about a messy toddler.)

Anyways, back in October, my CLEAN, stain-free, beloved car was totaled in an accident. At this point, I knew it was inevitable that we needed a truck again. With our active lifestyle, home remodeling, etc... we needed a vehicle that could haul more than dead animals. So.... standing alongside the highway watching them tow away my car, my husband asked if he could get a truck. Yes, I said that right... I was in an accident and within the hour, my husband was asking for a truck. Go ahead... process. I'll wait.

Being the super awesome incredibly generous wife I am, I let him buy a brand new Ford 150 while I was given the keys to this pig sty of a vehicle. In retrospect, I'm stupid. Since then, I have scrubbed the seats with every stain remover imaginable on 5 or 6 different occasions. With toothbrush and heavy duty carpet scrubber in hand, NOTHING has worked. Mind you, most of these stains have been there almost 4 years. 

Thank you Pinterest/One Good Thing for recommending a concoction of one part Dawn dish soap mixed with two parts hydrogen peroxide and some baking soda! Again with toothbrush and carpet scrubber, I attacked every square inch of car upholstery and it is COMPLETELY stain free! No joke.

When I went to check on it after everything had dried, I heard the angels singing inside my garage. No longer do I have to fear the thought of driving someone around in my car. I can chauffeur with pride! Small warning though, test this out on a small, inconspicuous spot to make sure the peroxide does not bleach whatever fabric you're using it on.

Go forth readers and conquer stubborn stains! You too will feel unbelievable victorious! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

(Avocado) Brownie Fudge Bites recipe

Lately I've been on a mission to start incorporating more fruits, veggies and healthy whatnots into my diet. I am a pretty picky eater, so sometimes that requires being creative. This week I purchased 3 vegetables that I've never purchased/eaten before or haven't eaten in awhile. For a lunch meeting at a Japanese steakhouse awhile ago, I was convinced to try edamame. What a tasty and fun lil food to eat! I also purchased some broccoli... which I haven't eaten in about a decade.

My biggest victory of the weekend has been my avocado purchase. Tried avocados once and that was enough for me. After reading that they are a very beneficial food to eat, I decided to try again... this time disguised in something. Behold, chocolate brownie fudge. Figured I'd give it a try.

Delicious lil morsels!!! As long as you really puree the avocado and don't leave any green traces, you will never know there's an avocado in there. These bites are very chocolatey and taste like thicker brownie batter. One serving of avocado, coming right up!

  • 1 avocado, ripened
  • 1/2 C. margarine (this can be a vegan treat as long as you use vegan margarine)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 C. cocoa
  • 3 C. powdered sugar
  • 1/3 C. chopped walnuts (optional)

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the margarine over low heat.

Once margarine is melted, puree with avocado in food processor or blender until perfectly smooth. Be sure there are no chunks of avocado left! Return mixture to saucepan over very low heat and add the rest of the ingredients (except the walnuts) adding the powdered sugar a portion at a time.

Once all the sugar has been added, the mixture should be thick. Add walnuts if desired, and transfer to a loaf pan. Refrigerate until firm. Now, be patient! If you don't let it firm up, you won't be able to slice it up into squares.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How To Find The Original Source of a Pinterest Image

I've seen quite a few people on blogs and Pinterest make comments about not knowing how to find the original source of the photo in question. So I decided to put together a quick tutorial that hopefully helps some people out. This works with any photo found online, not just Pinterest. Please note: there is a slight possibility this won't work and the photo you're looking for may just have appeared from out of no where. These screen shots are all in Safari on a mac. I don't know if it's the same process in other Internet browsers or on PCs, but who cares. PCs are dumb.

STEP 1: Save the photo to your desktop or somewhere on your hard drive. 

STEP 2: Go to Google and click on "images."

STEP 3: Click on the camera icon in the search bar.

STEP 4: Click on the "upload an image" link.

STEP 5: Click on the "choose from" button.

STEP 6: Find the image that you saved on your hard drive.

STEP 7: Select "choose."

STEP 8: Google will automatically start searching the Internet for your image. The link you're looking for may not necessarily be the first one. Check 'em all until you find what you're looking for. Google will also pull up some similar images. 

I had been looking for this incredible giraffe nursery online and this nifty little tool found the original source! Thanks Linde Browning Design for your to die for nursery and to Google for finding it for me! Woot!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

DIY: Michigan string canvas

Depending on your canvas size (I used 8x10), print out an outline of your desired state. I love my Mitten and placed the heart over Holland... were I currently live. Sorry upper peninsula... you didn't make the cut. Tape the printout securely over the canvas.

God bless West Michigan.

Start pushing/hammering your nails around the outline in consistent intervals. Until you hit the wooden frame around the edge of the canvas, the nails push in very easily by hand. You'll have to hammer in the rest.

Carefully remove the printout without pulling out the nails. 

I was originally planning on just wrapping the string around the nails. However, I didn't think things through and used nails with tiny to non-existent heads on them. Awesome. This was how I remedied things. I removed the nails that weren't nailed into the wooden frame. Using a needle and thread, I "sewed" the string in a random order through the existing holes. If you go through a hole, come up through the one right next to it to fully utilize your string and not have a mess on the back.

For the nails that were already permanently in there, I carefully wrapped the string around it tightly several times. Regardless if you thread the string through the hole or around the nail, keep the string taut.... or you will be sorry.

So you don't lose your mind, do not anticipate using one long piece of string. You will die. Your mind will turn to mush and I guarantee you'll throw the canvas against the wall. I used many many pieces and just taped the ends on the back. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cheddar Chicken Pasta recipe


For the chicken:
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts -- trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp. dry mustage
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
For the pasta:
  • 1 lb. rotini or other short cut pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minces (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced (or 1/2 tsp. onion flakes)
  • 1/4 C. dry white wine
  • 1 T. mustard
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 C. milk (I used skim milk, but mixed in about 2 T. heavy cream)
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • Crushed red paper flakes to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix together mustard, thyme, salt and pepper and sprinkle over chicken pieces. When pan is hot, add chicken and brown about 3 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover with foil. Set aside.

Heat water to boil in a large stock pot for pasta, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente and drain according to directions. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine. Add wine, garlic, onions, and mustard. Cook about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Reduce heat to low and slowly add milk, stirring to combine. Cook about 5-7 minutes more until mixture begins to thicken. Add cheese and stir to melt. Add chicken and pasta and toss to incorporate sauce. Add thyme and oregano and serve topped with crushed red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.

Then & Now: Laundry Room

I started continued the laundry room improvements way back in mid January. Then, as always, life happens. Things got busy with work, then the month long floor/kitchen remodel... you know how it goes. Anyways, I found a few ideas on Pinterest and other blogs that I decided to incorporate into my own laundry room. Nothing major, but as everyone knows... it's all in the details.

I purchased this more-functional-than-stylish contact paper from the dollar store to line the bottom of my cupboards with. Between leaky laundry soap bottles and water being splashed everywhere, my cupboards needed some protection. So far, it seems to be working out nicely.

Even though I am the primary laundry-doer in the house, there may be a time... God forbid... husband might have to do his own laundry in my absence. This lil cork board from Walmart on the inside of a cupboard door is great for housing instructions for all those tricky (and not so tricky) articles of clothing that you'll never remember exactly how to launder.

I used to have this shelf in my old bedroom at my parent's house. After a fresh coat of paint, it was ready to hang out above my dryer. I purchased these two glass jars from BigLots for $5 each and put my Oxy-Clean and Borax in them. I was a little stumped at what else could go on the shelf and then I remembered I had a bunch of clothespins. Voila! Oh so fitting for laundry room decor. This lil guy was created by clipping clothespins around a tuna fish can and adding some flair. 

Shortly after moving in, the drywall in the bathroom one day said, "F you TP... I'm so done with you," and dropped the entire toilet paper holder on the floor. Of course this was right after the last coat of Frivolous Berry paint had dried. In fear that my patch job wouldn't hold continuous use of the TP holder, we scored some heavy duty magnets and relocated the TP to the side of the dryer. 

Did you know you can use a dry erase marker on your washer and dryer? I never dry my dress clothes all the way, so I've gotten in the habit of setting a timer just to get the wrinkles out. Well, more times than not, I miss an article of clothing or two and end up drying them all the way. A timer and marker are easy ways to make sure you don't shrink or ruin anything.

This is my pride and joy of the laundry room. I created this custom frame to go around the current plain Jane borderless mirror with those huge gaudy plastic clips. Instead of making this post any longer, stay tuned for a future step-by-step tutorial! 

Other updates include:
  • Added a fresh coat of white paint on all the walls, ceiling and cupboards
  • Painted the soffits and one wall Frivolous Berry
  • New light fixture (thanks Dad!)
  • Added a bar for hanging clothes (thanks again Dad)
  • Relocated the towel bar
  • Mom made me some great new zebra curtains
  • Removed horrible laminate flooring and replaced it with solid vinyl tiles
  • New silver hinges and handles
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